The Annapolis church with about 100 members and about 35 attending on Sundays is located a few miles away from the Maryland State House. In February, Wes Moore, the state’s new governor, preached there on the last Sunday of Black History Month.
“I’m very troubled to learn of the vandalism that has taken place at Fowler United Methodist Church,” said Moore, the state’s first Black governor, in a statement after the incident. “The church is a beautiful and diverse part of the community and our sacred spaces deserve respect and veneration. … I know that Rev. Jerome A. Jones, Sr. will reinforce faith and spread good will in the community as worshippers continue to cope with this difficult time.”
The bishop of United Methodist churches in the region called for solidarity.
“In light of the vandalism at Fowler UMC in Annapolis, I invite all of our congregations to join in intentional and fervent prayer,” said Bishop LaTrelle Easterling in an email to leaders of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. “If one of us is under attack, we are all under attack. If one is hurt, we all are hurt. God calls us to pray and to work together to build the Beloved Community.”
Jones said he’s asking his church members to pray not only to heal their pain but the pain of whoever is responsible for the vandalism of their building.
“I asked them to stand in solidarity and let us forgive those who have hurt this church and pray for them,” he said.
Jones said he has been overwhelmed by the generosity of people of a variety of backgrounds and faiths who have reached out, offering support that has ranged from prayers to money to other kinds of assistance.
“You had strangers coming, sharing love who you’ve never met before,” he said. “Even in the midst of all the pain and the hate that is in the world, love still conquers all, and at the end of the day it’s all about love.”
The church had recently worked with community partners, including a local restaurant and nearby hospital, to provide food and toiletries to homeless people. It’s in the process, its pastor said, of filling barrels with nonperishable food to send to children in Africa. In a few months, Jones expects to hand out trophies to participants who arrive on the church property for its “Car, Truck, & Bike Show.”
And soon, he hopes, there will be a prayer vigil for the community after the church and its members clean up the signs of the vandalism that struck their building.
“I’ve got to make sure, if I do nothing else, I’ve got to let them know they didn’t win,” he said of whoever caused the crime. “So to do that we’ve got to keep moving forward.”
This article originally appeared here.